Naturally, we couldn’t help but pick Kyle’s brain to find out how he get’s things so right. Here’s what he had to say.
How and why did you start your own business?
It is important to note that I trained as a chef at 17 so I would always have a skill to fall back on. From then till now, I’d managed several companies, but in Jan 2016, I needed to fall back onto my skill. By chance, I was asked to do a pop-up food stall at a market. I initially invested R800 and to my greatest surprise, our stall became a huge success. Over the past 17 months, we have grown into a fantastically profitable business.
We’ve now fed more than 35,000 people in 17 months, employed 13 staff, and have featured on Cape Talk, Country and Life Mag, Insight Guide, Sarie Food Magazine and have been nominated “the most stand out stalls at R44” by two separate rating brands on their top ten SA Markets. We also got invited to cook for George Calombaris from Master Chef Australia a few weeks back.
What’s the most challenging thing been to date?
Our first market was set up in Hermanus, but I lived on the West Coast which was a 2 hour drive. It involved a lot of driving, late hours and hard work, but I needed to start somewhere and took it head on. Looking back, I’m pleased I did and our new base on the Root44 Market in Stellenbosch is a permanent set up and is a dream to work from.
What do you love the most?
The appreciation of what we do, it’s really something dealing face to face with clients who love what we do, every day. I also love my staff, I’ve invested a lot of time into training and improving their lives. It’s what this is all about, greater good and they make my life a joy.
Which other entrepreneurs inspire you?
Pharrell Williams, although he is a musician, he still runs a brand, and he’s hugely successful at it but is so inspiring and extremely humble. He looks at life like a kid. I also love Richard Branson, his story of growth is pretty incredible. And then maybe Jannie Mouton, I love how at such a late age he found his thing. It’s never too late to start.
What are the advantages of focusing on just one product per stall?
Doing a single product has huge advantages and I hope many companies see this and follow. Here’s why:
1. You stand the chance to become iconic and renowned as “thee place” for a specific product.
2. You reduce your cost of sales and can bring your food cost percentage within an accurate figure.
3. Trends are easier to predict and keep track of. You reduce waste and logistics, storage and management become easier, as there are fewer variables.
4. You can turn up the heat whenever you need to and produce consistent, large scale volume all the while keeping a high level of quality.
5. Most importantly, is that irrespective of whether your turnover may or may not be lower, the direct effect of lower costs is greater profit, less stress and an open market for other companies to specialise in other products which in turn creates more employment, greater economic opportunity and reduces the unsustainable manner of consumerism and waste.
What do you do to make your stalls stand out in crowded market spaces?
It’s a good question and one we’re toying with. We’re about to reinvest into the rebuild of our stalls. I know of companies who have seen huge increases in turnover just by making their stalls look the part. Don’t think “market stalls” means trestle table/selling my wares. They are great economic hubs and they deserve attention and respect. But till you get to that point, just look smart and most importantly, clean and organised. It’s amazing how many people comment on the organised style of our stalls as the “win over” factor.
What advice would you give to people wanting to start their own business?
Understand the books, it is so critical to know your business’s position on a daily basis. I can make such fast and informed strategic decisions at the drop of a hat because I’m so involved in my daily books. Also, you don’t need to invest half a million and you don’t need a loan.
The best businesses are those that grow organically from an idea, hard work and a few Rands. Grow your business into its turnover, expenses and ultimately its profits. It’s less stressful, more enriching and in my opinion, more successful doing it this way. People appreciate a growing business. You also lay the foundations from which to build on by doing this. You need to grow organically to establish grit, soul, values and a strong foundation. I often feel those businesses which pump a load of cash into an idea, are often perfect looking “shells” from the outside with dangerously high overheads. It’s high risk and the businesses don’t necessarily pack the meat to feed the monster of the deadly “Fixed Expenses”.
What’s your opinion been of Yoco?
Yoco has helped us immensely, we don’t have to rent costly machines or pay for costly telephone line fees just to link our card machines. It’s a once off payment and it runs off our existing cell phones. Initially, we only ran cash sales, but since adopting the Yoco card machine, we saw our sales increase by more than 15% because we could service those clients with an additional payment solution. The business portal is also great for managing card payments and performances by staff. We’re looking forward to the day we can move all our sales over to the Yoco POS system as a complete solution.
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